Holy crap. For the first time in my 32+ years, the football Cardinals will have home games on local television. For many, many years — back when they lived in St. Louis — they have never had any home games on local television. They moved to Phoenix in the 80s and I can’t recall any local games being televised in the eight years I have lived in the area. This was always attributable to the lack of sellouts.
Incidentally, I still can’t stand Bill Bidwill.
I will admit that in my early, early childhood in St. Louis, MO, I was a football Cardinals fan. I remember playing imaginary football games in my yard with the likes of Jim Hart, Roy Green, and Terry Metcalf, to name a few. In fact, the last regular season football Cardinals game I went to was in 1978 at the old Busch Stadium where they got their butts kicked by the Steelers (Bradshaw, et al). It was really, really cold.
I did get a few free tickets to one of the pre-season games last year and it was really sad. The team has very little support out here, much like the Diamondbacks. The reason is that everyone here is from somewhere else, mostly from places with their own teams. So, that means, when the Cowboys come to town, the stadium is full of 70% Cowboys fans and 10% Cardinals fans. The rest of the people are there because they got free tickets from work, charity, or grocery store giveaways.
Some may argue that Sun Devil Stadium sucked, but I call bullshit on that. I am an ASU football season ticket holder and I love the atmosphere and the fans. The people love the team and it is great fun. Not the case with the Cardinals, and that is Bidwill’s fault because he doesn’t love the fans. Ask people in Chicago, St. Louis, and Phoenix and they will tell you.
But now they have this great new stadium and a year’s worth of sellouts. It’s a shame that the people are only going for the new stadium and to get dibbs on the SuperBowl tickets in 08. But, the Bidwills could care less….they finally got what they came for (cha-ching).
And this is why I love the Bears and Broncos.
The Cardinals had a home in one of the great sports towns in all the land, complete with some of the most loyal fans in sports (St. Louis). Everyone there has always loved the baseball Cardinals and the Blues. They love the Rams. They didn’t really hate the Cardinals in STL, rather, they hated the lack of support for the team from its greedy owner. That has been the case since they moved here, too.
When I lived in Chicago and Denver, it was like a new world for me in terms of football. There is like a 20-year waiting list for Broncos’ season tickets — some people hand them down as heirlooms in their wills. Those people love their team, rain or shine, and the other team’s fans usually don’t go the games and root openly against the home team like they do here. Same in Chicago. All those lunatic Cubs fans do have one working part of their brains….they are Bears fans. And they are loyal.
But Phoenix is a town made of mostly implants from CA, TX, CO, IL, MN, NY and other places and, I would argue, a fairweathered sports town to top it off. When the teams are winning, it’s not so bad to pay hundreds of dollars for OK seats and overpriced parking and concessions, but when the teams suck, or even kind of suck, they just don’t go.
For the Diamondbacks, I think it is because they play in a domed shopping mall/garage that is horrible when the roof is closed. When open, it is a great place to watch a game, but that only happens a few times early in the season.
Unfortunately, the only people who can afford good seats are the worst fans. Most of them come late, leave early, and spend most of the game on a phone. They don’t cheer when a good play happens, they don’t get loud during key situations of the game, particularly early, and the mood there is more like “I went to a baseball game and a client meeting broke out.” I try my best to be a good fan for them when I am there in my good seats. I try to set a good example and I am a fan of the team (except when the St. Louis Cardinals come to town, of course).
But even then, I cheer for both sides during the whole game (just a tiny bit louder for the Cardinals).
So hopefully the televised home games for the Cardinals will allow people to finally meet their football team and maybe get excited about them. I won’t get too excited just yet because I am convinced that the football Cardinals are really just the Chicago Cubs of football…after all, they are originally from Chicago and I even think they used to play at Wrigley (feel free to double check that and post a comment).
Either way, if that team is ever to be successful, this is the year to cultivate the seed that was planted with the new stadium. The TV will hopefully get a lot of the younger kids to start playing imaginary football games in their front yards with guys like Kurt Warner, Edgerrin James, Larry Fitzgerald, and the like. Let’s just hope Bill Bidwill doesn’t decide to move the team again.